Cannabis Science

29 July 2022

What is RSO?

Another popular choice in the cannabis concentrate market, RSO or Rick Simpson Oil, is said to offer a variety of medical and health benefits.

RSO is an unrefined and particularly potent oil that is extracted from the cannabis plant using the common solvent ethanol. Boasting a thick, almost syrupy like consistency, RSO can be applied both as a topical treatment or ingested orally in either food or drink.

But what’s the story with RSO?

In this article, we will take a closer look at RSO, its potential benefits, side effects and uses but before we get into that, let’s take a look at how present-day incarnations of RSO first came into existence.

A Brief History of RSO

Back in 2003, a Canadian named Rick Simpson discovered three suspicious bumps on his arm that, following further examination, turned out to be basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.

Following his diagnosis, Simpson started to do his own research and discovered a study from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in which it was reported that THC had been found to eliminate cancer cells in mice.

Having used cannabis for a variety of health purposes previously, Simpson decided to take his investigation a step further by producing his own cannabis oil to treat his skin cancer topically. Having applied the oil to a bandage, Simpson wrapped his arm to cover the cancerous areas.

Remarkably, just four days later and the cancerous growths are said to have disappeared. While Simpson’s physician remained sceptical, Simpson was now convinced of the medicinal values of the cannabis plant, and the birth of RSO had now taken place.

Simpson had used cannabis to treat medical issues in the past, so he made a cannabis oil to treat his skin cancer topically, applying it to a bandage and covering the cancerous spots.

He created the oil that would become RSO to treat his skin cancer topically. After four days, the cancerous growths had disappeared. His physician wouldn’t believe it, but Simpson was convinced of the medicinal powers of cannabis.

Following his remarkable recovery, Simpson would begin to cultivate his own cannabis in order to perfect his custom made oil, and while many dismissed his claims, Simspon would not be deterred in his bid to reveal the medicinal properties inherent in the cannabis plant.

First launching a Youtube documentary, “Run from the Cure”, Simspon would then release his own book, detailing his discovery of the now infamous RSO.

Now considered one of the most influential figures in the dramatic facelift cannabis has undergone in the past twenty years, Simpson would donate his RSO supplies for free to those who needed them until he was forced to stop due to legal reasons in 2009.

As of 2022, Simpson is no longer involved in the production or distribution of RSO.

What’s the difference between RSO and CBD Oil?

RSO has high levels of THC, said to be at least 60%, while it also contains the full range of cannabinoids contained within the cannabis plant. As such, RSO does offer both different effects and medical usages when compared to CBD oil.

Given its high levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), RSO does offer psychoactive effects, while CBD oil, due to its lack of THC, does not. Indeed, CBD oil that has been extracted from industrial hemp plants contains only CBD. In layman’s terms, RSO offers a “high” that CBD (cannabidiol)oil does not.

RSO should not be confused with hemp oil or hempseed oil, as these types of oil do not typically contain either CBD or THC and thus, do not provide psychoactive effects.

RSO, on the other hand, very much does if ingested orally and should be used with caution, particularly by newcomers to cannabis

Is RSO Full-spectrum?

FSCO -.also known as Full-spectrum cannabis oil (FSCO), is a type of cannabis oil that boasts the complete set of bioactive compounds that are found in the cannabis plant. Unaltered from its original composition, this type of oil includes all of the flavonoids, terpenes, cannabinoids, phenols, and fatty acids, in their original and natural form.

In the case of RSO, while it does extract the complete set of compounds from the plant, the process of removing the solvent requires heat. Those of you in the know will recognise the fact that the heat alters cannabinoids from their original acid form into their activated form. This process is known as decarboxylation.

In this process, THCA decarboxylates into THC and CBDA into CBD. In addition, heat can also cause the volatilisation of the terpenes present in the initial extraction. The result of this means that the oil may not contain all of the bioactive compounds that were initially in the plant’s trichome glands.

What are the Potential Health Benefits of RSO?

At present, no scientific studies exist that prove either the efficacy or effectiveness of RSO. However, as with many conditions, plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests that RSO has been effective as a treatment, primarily for skin cancer. In addition, RSO is said to offer great potential in providing rapid and highly effective pain relief.

Compared to other forms of cannabis, RSO is an excellent choice as it is both discrete and odourless and can be taken orally on its own or mixed with food.

RSO is typically produced by using primarily indica strains that are known for offering analgesic, anxiolytic, and sedating whole-body effects.

Side effects

One of the most commonly reported side-effects of RSO is sleepiness. Of course, we heal more quickly when we are asleep than awake, so this might not necessarily be a bad thing.

The psychoactive effects can be minimalised by carefully managing your initial dosage before gradually increasing it in order to maintain your tolerance at a functional level. Daytime sleepiness should become less prevalent within three to four weeks.

Some consumers do find the taste of RSO to be somewhat bitter, so while the oil can be swallowed directly, it might be more appealing to mix or cook it with food.

How do I use RSO?

Like all things cannabis, dosing does vary from person to person. While Rick Simpson no longer supplies his own oil, his website does provide dosing information, although this has not been approved or corroborated by any scientific research.

RSO will typically conTain around 80 to 90% THC, so it goes without saying that this cannabis product can be particularly potent. As such, it is essential to ease yourself in.

RSO is typically consumed in the following ways:

A topical that can be applied directly onto the surface of the skin
A sublingual (under the tongue) for a more rapid absorption rate
A capsule consumed orally for slowest-acting effects that last longer

Can I Smoke or Dab RSO?

Yes, but it depends.

RSO is an oil, so it can be smoked or dabbed, but this very much depends on what solvent was used in its production. If a highly flammable solvent has been used, it is not safe to either smoke or dab RSO. As such, always check with your vendor to determine how your RSO was produced and whether it is safe to be consumed via either of these methods.

Can I Cook With RSO?

Yes, indeed you can. In fact, one of the best ways to consumer RSO is by cooking with it.

Much like cannabutter or cannabis cooking oil, you can apply RSO to your favourite dishes but consider the texture and stickiness of the RSO you are using. Ideally, RSO is best used in baked goods like brownies rather than something with a firmer consistency like cookies.

RSO can also be mixed into a sauce in order to conceal its flavour, while it can also be used in a hearty smoothie. Banana is a particularly good choice.

Final Thoughts

While there’s some promising research surrounding the use of medical cannabis and RSO oil to treat cancer and other medical conditions, peer-reviewed clinical trials are necessary to understand more clearly the potential benefits and usages of RSO oil and which cannabinoids and strains work most effectively in its production

Ultimately, as with any medical treatment, years of clinical trials that are peer-reviewed and verified within the scientific community will only lead to a greater understanding of cannabis’s true potential and while it might be some years yet before we reach a cannabis health zenith, increasingly it appears that cannabis is becoming increasingly accepted and respect as an alternative health treatment.

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